Live Coronavirus Updates: Tracking Global News, Cases and Deaths


Birx urges Americans in hot spots to consider wearing a mask at home if they live with someone who is especially vulnerable.

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the Trump administration’s coronavirus coordinator, said on the CNN program “State of the Union” on Sunday that the country is in a “new phase” of the coronavirus pandemic, and that it is much more extensive than the spring outbreaks in major cities like New York and Seattle.

She recommended that people living in communities where cases are surging consider wearing a mask at home if they live with someone who is especially vulnerable because of age or underlying medical conditions.

“What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread,” Dr. Birx said, adding that rural areas have not been spared. “So everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune.”

She emphasized the significance of asymptomatic transmission. “If you have an outbreak in your rural area or in your city, you need to really consider wearing a mask at home, assuming that you’re positive if you have individuals in your household with co-morbidities,” she said.

Both she and Adm. Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, emphasized the importance of mask wearing, hand washing and avoiding crowds. On the NBC program “Meet the Press,” Admiral Giroir said some of the efforts seemed to be helping in recent weeks to reduce the number of cases in Arizona and some other states that have been hard hit this summer.

He repeatedly returned to mask wearing as perhaps the most effective preventive measure in communities experiencing an outbreak. “Wearing a mask is incredibly important, but we have to have like 85 or 90 percent of individuals wearing a mask and avoiding crowds,” he said. Those percentages, he said, give “you the same outcome as a complete shutdown.”

Asked if he was recommending a national mask mandate, Admiral Giroir said, “The public health message is we’ve got to have mask wearing.” He added: “If we don’t do that, and if we don’t limit the indoor crowded spaces, the virus will continue to run.”

Dr. Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said on CNN that in many areas where cases are surging, the availability of tests was badly lagging. “In 18, 20 states, the number of tests being done is actually falling and falling because our testing system is under such strain that we just can’t even deliver the test today that we were doing two weeks ago. That’s very concerning because when cases are rising, and your number of tests are falling, that’s a recipe for disaster,” he said.

Admiral Giroir defended the nation’s testing program, noting it has been increased exponentially in recent months. He said that both testing and contact tracing were crucial responses, but not particularly helpful in large, communitywide outbreaks.

As many U.S. colleges plan to welcome back students this month, they face challenges unlike any other industry — containing the coronavirus among a young, carefree population that not only studies together, but also lives together, parties together and, if decades of history are any guide, sleeps together.

It will be a complex endeavor requiring far more than just the reconfiguring of dorm rooms and cafeterias. It also involves coronavirus testing programs capable of serving communities the size of small cities and the enforcement of codes of conduct among students not eager to be policed.

Colleges are mapping strategies as varied as the contrasting Covid regulations enacted by the states, and the efforts could add more than $70 billion to the budgets of the nation’s 5,000 colleges.

Yet administrators say giving students at least a taste of college life is worth it, if done in a safe way. Whether those constituents agree is an open question, and complaints about tuition have led a growing number of schools to offer rebates.

In one of the more elaborate plans, the University of California, Berkeley, will test all residential students within 24 hours of their arrival. After that, everyone living on campus will be tested twice a month if its test proves accurate enough.

But Cornell College in Iowa, with only 1,000 students, is counting on its humble health center and county health department to do its testing. Small schools in similar situations are finding themselves at the mercy of private labs that can take two weeks to deliver results, making results almost meaningless.

It is still possible that the frantic planning will come to naught.

Its outbreak untamed, Melbourne, Australia, escalates a lockdown.

Officials in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, announced stricter measures on Sunday in an effort to stem a coronavirus outbreak that is raging despite a lockdown that began four weeks ago.

For six weeks starting on Sunday, residents of metropolitan Melbourne will be under curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. except for purposes of work or giving and receiving care.

As under the current lockdown, permitted reasons for leaving the house include: shopping for essential goods and services; medical care and caregiving; and necessary exercise, work and study. Food shopping is limited to one person per household per day, and outdoor exercise is limited to one hour per person per day, both within about three miles of home. Public gatherings are limited to two people, including household members.

In explaining the new measures, Premier Daniel Andrews said the high rate of community transmission, including 671 new cases reported in the state of Victoria on Sunday, suggested that the virus was more widespread than had been known.

“You’ve got to err on the side of caution and go further and go harder,” he said.

Victoria has had 11,557 confirmed cases, almost all of them in metropolitan Melbourne, and 123 deaths.

Here is what else is happening around the world:

Lawmakers and White House officials remain at an impasse on a new relief package.

Isaias — which is written Isaías in Spanish and pronounced ees-ah-EE-ahs — had clobbered the Bahamas with hurricane conditions on Saturday after hitting parts of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. As it advances northward, the center of the storm is skirting close to the coast of Florida without making landfall so far, but its track is likely to bring it ashore in the Carolinas early in the week.

Complicating the emergency response to the storm, reported coronavirus cases continue to rise sharply in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, and health officials have warned that their health care systems could be strained beyond capacity. To avoid virus exposure in shelters, the first choice is for coastal residents in homes vulnerable to flooding to stay with relatives or friends farther inland, being careful to wear masks and remain socially distant.

“Because of Covid, we feel that you are safer at home,” said Bill Johnson, the emergency management director for Palm Beach County. “Shelters should be considered your last resort.”

Here is what else is happening around the country:

A top economic official and the governor of Arkansas used appearances on the Sunday talk shows to discuss the financial toll of the virus as it rages through much of the country.

Neel Kashkari, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, argued that it would be better for the economy if the United States instituted strict lockdown policies for a month to six weeks to stop the spread of the virus.

If the country cannot control the spread, “we’re going to have flare-ups, lockdowns and a very halting recovery with many more job losses and many more bankruptcies,” Mr. Kashkari said on the CBS program “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

“If we were to lock down hard for a month or six weeks, we could get the case count down, so that our testing and our contact tracing was actually enough to control it,” he said. “If we don’t do that, and we have this raging virus spreading throughout the country with flare-ups and local lockdowns for the next year or two, which is entirely possible, we’re going to see many, many more business bankruptcies.”

He also said that given the low cost of issuing debt, the government has room to spend to support the American economy.

“Congress should use this opportunity to support the American people, and the American economy,” he said. “If we get the economy growing, we will be able to pay off the debt.”

His argument for a longer shutdown stands in contrast to others’ views. On the CNN program “State of the Union,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas defended his decision not to impose a statewide stay-at-home order earlier this year. Mr. Hutchinson emphasized the economic ramifications of extended shutdowns.

“We’ve got to take on two emergencies here,” he said. “One is our virus, the other is the economy.”

High-fiving and spitting: Major League Baseball has an outbreak. The commissioner wants players to behave.

Amid a slow but steady stream of new coronavirus cases, the Major League Baseball season becoming more precarious seemingly by the day.

A Russian regulatory agency is expected to approve that vaccine for the October campaign by mid-August, far earlier than timelines suggested by Western regulators, who have often said a vaccine would become available no sooner than the end of the year.

But with limited transparency in the Russian program, separating the science from the politics and propaganda could prove impossible. Critics have already drawn attention to Russia’s tradition of cutting corners in research on other pharmaceutical products and accusations of intellectual property theft.

The Northeast, once the virus’s biggest hot spot, has improved considerably since its peak in April. Yet cases are increasing slightly in New Jersey, Rhode Island and Massachusetts as residents move around more freely and gather more frequently in groups.

The picture is similarly distressing overseas, where even governments that would seem well suited to combating the virus are seeing surges.

New daily infections in Japan, a country with a long tradition of wearing face masks, rose more than 50 percent in July. Australia, which can cut itself off from the rest of the world more easily than most, is battling a wave of infections in and around Melbourne. Hong Kong, Israel and Spain are also fighting second waves.

Mexico’s love affair with melodrama appeared to be over. Now, thanks partly to the pandemic, the telenovela is roaring back.

Confined to their homes, millions of Mexicans have devoted their evenings to the traditional melodramas and other kitschy classics, finding in the familiar faces and happy endings a balm for anxieties raised by a health crisis that has left at least 43,000 dead and millions unemployed in the country.

The resurgence has been a boon to Televisa, a onetime media monopoly that had taken a beating from streaming services. During the second quarter, 6.6 million people watched Televisa’s flagship channel during prime time each evening, when telenovelas and other melodramas air. Viewership was around five million in that period last year, according to the network.

Miguel Ángel Herros, the executive producer of the melodrama “La Rosa de Guadalupe,” has been filming for shorter periods, in locations that leave ample space for his crew. Actors have their temperatures taken when they arrive on set, and rehearse with masks and face shields.

It is unclear whether the success will last through a pandemic that has forced physical displays of affection out of telenovelas.

“There are no kisses, no hugs, no caresses, no scenes in bed,” Mr. Herros said.

Reporting was contributed by Kevin Armstrong, Benedict Carey, Emily Cochrane, Melina Delkic, Tess Felder, Christina Goldbaum, James Gorman, Andrew Higgins, Jennifer Jett, Natalie Kitroeff, Patrick J. Lyons, Simon Marks, Patricia Mazzei, Tara Parker-Pope, Kate Phillips, Jeanna Smialek and Sameer Yasir.



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